LIBERTY 2017 – Information & FAQs

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Thank you for your patience. We realize this information is much slower in coming than originally announced and certainly desired. It is no small undertaking to move this national biennial conference from St. Louis to a much more complex location such as Washington, D.C. In short, there are simply many more moving parts and additional overall expenses associated with the changes in location and venue.

We have worked diligently to minimize the need to transfer these costs to our students and campus ministry workers. We also realize travel costs will be greater for nearly everyone. However, we also believe the benefits of hosting this conference in Washington, D.C. will certainly be worth it. In short, we worked extra hard at minimizing the hotel costs during our time in D.C., which necessitated extra time for various negotiations. Due to these last-second changes the main website event page for LIBERTY will not be accessible for another 7-10 days. We pray the answers to the following FAQs will be a suitable bridge while it is readied. We were certainly not delaying anything on purpose, but simply wanting to make sure that we had the best possible deal for all concerned. Thanks again for your patience.

When and where is the conference?

“Liberty,” the 2017 National LCMS Campus Ministry Conference, is planned for Jan. 4-6, 2017, in College Park, Md. The event for college students and campus-ministry workers will take place on the campus of the University of Maryland, which is a 30-minute drive from downtown Washington, D.C.

What is the theme for LIBERTY about?

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)  LIBERTY will provide a forum to both explore the Biblical themes of our freedom in Christ but also address fundamental issues related to religious liberty, the First Amendment and cultivating the vocation of Christian citizenship on campus. It is not about “politics”, but it will encourage and equip college students not only in their faith, but also as they live, move and have their being on the front lines of religious-liberty issues that seem to be multiplying each day. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

What will be the cost for registration and housing?

The cost is only $270 for registration, three nights at the conference hotel (based on quad occupancy), and at least two meals on campus. We will again offer a tiered approach so, if you wish, you may request either double- or single-room occupancy for an additional cost. Those tiered rates will be made available when registration opens, if not sooner.

When will registration open?

Online registration will open on Monday, Oct. 3 and remain open until Thursday, Nov. 10 through the Synod’s website.

Where is the location of the conference?
The main parts of the conference will be held at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.  Plenary and sectional sessions will take place in the Student Union (S.T.A.M.P.), and worship services will occur at Memorial Lutheran Chapel.

Where is the conference hotel?
Hyatt Place Washington DC/US Capitol
33 New York Avenue
Washington, DC 20002
hyattplacewashingtondc.com

We are really excited about the conference hotel, which is a mile or less from most main D.C. sites and, most importantly, only 1 1/2 blocks from the main Metro line. The Metro line is also only one stop from the heart of D.C., which will make it extremely convenient in getting from any of the three various D.C.-area airports to the hotel, to the University of Maryland and to spend free time in D.C.

Once again we will be providing the housing list to the hotel per our contract. Please feel free to peruse the website to get familiar with the location and such, but do NOT contact the hotel to ask for a room. We will be handling that directly.

Will there be parking costs at the hotel and on campus?

Parking will cost $30 per vehicle per night at the hotel. We will not be able to help with parking costs at the hotel ($30 per vehicle per night) if you choose to drive yourself.

What transportation costs are covered by the conference?

We will be providing for all costs for either busing or rail transportation between the conference hotel and the University of Maryland, including a pass for the Metrorail. Registrants will be responsible for getting to/from the conference hotel, their travel to/from the conference, and any additional excursions beyond those that may be offered during the conference.

Will there be opportunities for mass transportation (busing) in key locations around the country in order pool resources?

We are hoping to yet research potential opportunities for this once registration begins flowing in to see if we can help coordinate and negotiate rates for such to take place. There will be a place to mark on your registration if you are interested in this potential option or asking us to help you get in touch with others who may be open to carpooling or adding you to their group travel plans.

Is there a suggested mode of transportation? 

No. It will depend on a lot of factors, especially time and distance. Some groups will certainly fly. Others may consider the train, especially given the ease of getting to the conference hotel via train. Others may choose to drive.

Who will be the main speakers be at LIBERTY?

We are still in the process of seeking to line up a couple of additional local speakers, but we are pleased to confirm the following speakers:

  • REV. DR. DANIEL GARD serves as the president of Concordia University Chicago. He previously served as Professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. Nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2013, Gard also served as Rear Admiral (Lower Half) in the position of Deputy Chief of Chaplains for Reserve Matters in the U.S. Navy.
  • TIM GOEGLEIN is senior adviser to the president as well as vice president for External Relations at Focus on the Family in Washington, D.C. He worked as special assistant to President George W. Bush, and he was the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison from 2001–08.
  • REV. DR. MATTHEW HARRISON is 13th president of the LCMS, serving as the church’s chief ecclesiastical officer. He served as executive director of the church’s former World Relief and Human Care ministry and as a pastor in Iowa and Indiana. He is a well-known author, editor, translator, and defender of life and liberty.
  • MARK HEMINGWAY is a Senior Writer for The Weekly Standard. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, MTV.com,  Reason and numerous other publications. He previously worked at The Washington Examiner, National Review, Market News International, and USA Today. He has appeared on C-Span’s “Washington Journal”, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered”.
  • MOLLIE ZIEGLER HEMINGWAY is a senior editor at The Federalist. A longtime journalist, her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN, National Review, GetReligion, Ricochet, Christianity Today, and elsewhere. Her work exposing the media silence regarding abortion physician Kermit Gosnell was noted on FOX News and in The New York Times, USA Today and various other outlets.

Sectional speakers will once again be cultivated from among those who are registered, Synod staff, and others from the D.C. area, exhibitors, and the like. They will cover topics related to the theme but also a wide variety of other interests.

Will there be a chance during the conference to get into D.C. to see the sights and explore the national mall area?

Yes. However, we are sensitive to the cost associated with providing too much time in the city and passing that on to everyone. The conference hotel in D.C., and, following lunch on the middle day of the conference, time will be open for the remainder in the day for various optional excursions and free time in the heart of the nation’s capital.

Is the tentative conference schedule currently available?

No, but it will be available when the event website is updated and prepared for registration in the next 7-10 days. The schedule is currently being adjusted and fine tuned. However, in general the goal is for the vast majority of everyone to arrive at the conference hotel on the evening of January 3. At that time, we will have rolling registration at the hotel site.  We will have a full day and evening at the University of Maryland on January 4, a half day on January 5, and then the conference closes after a half final day on January 6.

Will travel scholarships be offered again this time?

Yes. We will be able to offer slightly more help and the tier distances will be changing, but we will be offering some modest help for travel expenses to those who will be traveling from the farthest distances. It will be at least as much as last time, if not more. It will, however, be based on need and the application, will take a bit more time and thought to fill out. Please understand that the goal is to seek to minimize the costs to those who have the greatest travel need. We cannot maintain the relatively low overall cost of the conference and give everyone as much travel assistance as we might otherwise like. More information is coming soon.

What if we don’t want to stay at the conference hotel?

You certainly don’t have to stay at the Hyatt Place with everyone else, but we greatly encourage you to do so. If you choose not to, you will forfeit a significant amount of overall value. There will be an option for local registration, but it is really designed only for those who are truly local and live in the area, with only a slight discount. Please understand that such a structure is also necessary due to contractual negotiations that we have made at the hotel. Please plan on staying at the conference hotel.

Will there be a conference T-shirt?

Yes, for the first time all registrants will receive an LCMS U T-shirt.

I heard there might be pre-LIBERTY retreats. Is that still the case?

Unfortunately, it is not. We have instead chosen to focus on keeping the costs down.  We apologize to any who were looking for such. We will, however, be offering some retreats flowing out of this conference, and we are considering holding an online pre-LIBERTY event in advance of the conference.

When should we arrive and depart? May we come a day or two early, or may we stay a day or two later? 

Yes. You may stay before or after for the additional cost of the room, roughly $95 per day ($108 with taxes). Again, please do not contact the hotel but work that out with us. In general, airfare and other costs are cheaper “after” the conference than “before” due to the New Year’s holiday.

Will there be any service opportunities at this event?

No, there will not be a service event directly associated with LIBERTY. However, students are strongly encouraged to consider participating in the Lutheran Young Adult Corps event taking place in Philadelphia at Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries immediately following the closure of LIBERTY. This is a great opportunity to serve your neighbor and expand your experience in the city of brotherly love. This experience is limited to 15 participants and is available on a first- come, first-served basis. An opportunity to register for this event will be provided in conjunction with your LIBERTY registration.

Will there be exhibitors at the conference?

Yes. Exhibitor information will be available when the website is updated, and online registration will be open at the same time as regular registration.

Will there be any future opportunities for communications or interaction before the event?

Yes. We will be sending a weekly conference e-newsletter that all our chapters, and any individuals, will be able to subscribe to leading up to the conference. The newsletters will include new or updated information, tips for free time or travel, and other items of interest.

When will the conference website be updated with this information?

Roughly a week before registration opens on Oct. 3, 2016. A Synod-wide e-mail will announce everything.

Can we get more LIBERTY bookmarks/postcards to distribute and help generate interest?

Yes, please e-mail Pastor Zill directly at marcus.zill@lcms.org or reply to the first e-news when you see it and let him know how many of each you would like. You may have to wait a couple of weeks, but we have plenty and will see that you receive them.  You may also get new LCMS U stickers and silicone bracelets included in your care package.

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Note: LCMS leader blog articles express the personal experiences and views of our ministry staff and have not been subjected to the LCMS doctrinal review process. Readers are encouraged to leave questions in the comment section or consult their pastor with any queries related to this content.

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